In her new book, The Leadership Pause, Dr. Chris Johnson’s call to action is for leaders to take on the important practice of mindful pausing in order to gain a clear vision of the natural leader resting just beneath the surface. With this book, Johnson, a trauma psychologist and somatic leadership coach, teaches the reader the gift of mindful awareness, which leads to clarity of mind and heart, reduces stress, increases resilience and leads to a deeper connection to one’s self.
“I ended up writing the book as a result of my own need to pause a decade or so ago,” Johnson says. “If we all, in our own capacity as leaders, took a pause, how much better the world would be.”
The book can help you:
- Train your attention and focus to shape your actions and positive impact.
- Embed purpose in all of your work, increasing buy-in and positive outcomes.
- Craft an inspiring vision for the future to bring people along with you as an engaging, conscious leader.
- Leverage your emotions and energy to effortlessly make decisions and take aligned action.
Recently, Dr. Johnson sat down with SALON TODAY’s Stacey Soble to talk about the importance of mindful pausing:
SALON TODAY: You say the pause is simple but not easy, what do you mean by that?
Dr. Johnson: “All of us lead such busy lives these days and there’s so much pressure to get more done with less time and we’re juggling all kinds of plates, so we need to learn to practice taking a pause. There’s a lot of physical, mental and emotional reasons a pause is good for us, and while that sounds simple, it’s difficult to do because it’s so much easier to get caught up in the day to day. What I talk about in the book is how to take on a deliberate, intentional practice of pausing. Then, I describe the various kinds of pauses that one can take. So, while it’s simple in concept, it’s not easy in practice because life happens.”
SALON TODAY: How is mindful pausing both mental and physical?
Dr. Johnson: “We breathe, right? We’re mammals and we can breathe consciously. For example, I can say ‘Let’s take a breath together.’ But, if we don’t think about it, our breath happens naturally. The same is true with a pause. While we can pause consciously, even in the course of daily life we periodically take pauses where we find ourselves waiting at a stoplight or in a stylist’s chair and there’s a bit of opportunity to do nothing. Those are more organic pauses. What I’m advocating is when we intentionally take a pause, and that can be 30 seconds, a minute or so, or even a day—we can benefit from the physical aspects of taking a pause which is the equivalent of putting on the brakes when the gas of life is going all the time. What happens in the body and the brain is our chemicals shift, and we start to chill. When we chill, we feel it, but it also means our mind is clear—we have more clarity of thought, and we have more access to resources like creativity and connecting with other people.”
SALON TODAY: What’s the important connection between triggers and a mindful pause?
Johnson: “If you’ve ever been driving, and there are knucklehead drivers around or you have kids who are interrupting you, sometimes you get triggered which means you have a physiological reaction, it’s often an emotional reaction. And when we are triggered, we are taken out of the moment. We think of triggers as big and sometimes they are, but often they are very subtle. A mindful pause intentionally brings you back to the moment, back to the conversation you are having or the attention you are paying to your child or simply being present at the stoplight.”
SALON TODAY: What’s one takeaway from your book you want every reader to have?
Johnson: “The big takeaway I hope readers have is that in the kind of craziness of the world we are living in now, their reactions are normal. And, that there is something each of us can do to work with ourselves to be more present, to have greater clarity and have less stress so we can enjoy life and make a difference.”
SALON TODAY: What are some strategies for integrating the practice of pausing into everyday life?
Johnson: “First of all, you need to experiment and commit to do intentional pausing on purpose. So pick a normal daily activity, like brushing your teeth, drinking your coffee or walking your dog, and take a simple breath, pause and notice what you are doing instead of simply going through the routine. Bring a mindful pause to the activity. The second way is to set up some times during the day, like a break at 10 a.m., one at lunchtime and one at the end of the day. Take 30 seconds to pause and check in with yourself.
“Those kind of integrated daily practices that don’t take a lot of time can really provide a reset from the stress point of view. Once we intentionally say we are going to take a pause, it only takes 60-90 seconds to let the stress hormones settle, then you can get more clear-headed about what you need to do. If we don’t take that pause, we tend to rush right into it and before you know it, something else is causing you more and more stress.”
“The beauty of this work is that it’s actually really simple, but it does have to be practiced. So, you want to be intentional and deliberate about it, and when you are, you will see the fruits of that practice over time.”
About Greenleaf Book Group: Greenleaf Book Group is an independent publisher and distributor located in Austin, Texas, dedicated to empowering authors. Greenleaf’s hybrid publishing model is uniquely positioned to offer the benefits of both traditional publishing and self‐publishing. To learn more about Greenleaf, visit greenleafbookgroup.com.
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